CDC going door-to-door in Atlanta asking for blood samples for coronavirus study

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Fifteen teams of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be fanning out across Atlanta this weekend, going door-to-door to ask members of 420 randomly selected households from 30 census blocks for blood samples.

The goal is to get enough vials to help scientists study how far the novel coronavirus has traveled in metro Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The samples are voluntary.

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Jacqueline Tate, an epidemiologist working on an antibody survey of COVID-19, said the blood samples as well as other data may help unlock information that could change the way the government responds to the outbreak.

The "survey" itself takes about 30 minutes and includes a questionnaire about health conditions. The researchers conduct the tests on a porch or driveway and all members of the household are encouraged to participate.

People who are not on the list cannot volunteer.

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Until recently, diagnostic testing for coronavirus had been largely limited to testing people already infected with the virus, first responders, health care workers and others who have a high-risk of catching COVID-19.

Last week, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican and ally of President Trump, announced the state would begin to reopen businesses.

He upped the ante late Thursday and said he would relax the state's month-long shelter-in-place orders and allow all businesses to reopen on Friday, despite warnings from the White House and Dr. Anthony Fauci who said he was concerned about some states "leapfrogging" over the first phase of federal guidelines for reopening.

Kemp's order to reopen the state shocked researchers, scientists, politicians and residents. It even drew a rebuke from President Trump who purportedly approved Kemp's aggressive plan but then backed off once public opinion soured.

Georgia has been hit particularly hard since the global pandemic surfaced in the United States.

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The state's testing capabilities have been uneven and the number of those infected have soared past the 25,000-mark.

More than 1,200 people have died in Georgia.